Benitez is seeking his first win with the Blues.
The Cottagers are winless in their last five games (0-2-3). In fact, the club has only recorded one victory in eight fixtures since Sept. 29. As it stands, Fulham are tenth in the table, 14 points off league-leading Manchester United at 4-5-4.
For the Blues, they are currently on a five-game winless streak of their own (0-2-3). The controversial 3-2 loss to the Red Devils on Oct. 28 has not only cost Chelsea their league lead, but also the job of former manager Roberto Di Matteo.
The Blues currently sit five points back of Manchester United in fourth at 7-2-4.
Chelsea and Fulham met a total of three times last season. Chelsea came away with a victory on penalties during a Capital One Cup tie, while both clubs settled for draws in their two league fixtures.
Since a 1-0 victory on March 19 2006, the Cottagers have gone 0-7-6 against the Blues in 13 meetings. Furthermore, since Oct. 27 1979, Fulham are only 1-20-13 against Chelsea. That was also the last time the club came away victorious at Stamford Bridge.
Will either club's luck change on Wednesday, or will they both extend their winless streaks to six?
Where: Stamford Bridge, London, England
What will be the result?
When: Wednesday, November 28, 2:45 p.m EST
TV/Live Stream: FOX Soccer Channel/FOX Soccer2go
Chelsea: Can Rafa Benitez finally win over the Blues' fans?
It’s not easy taking over for a manager who was beloved by the fans, especially one that was controversially axed following a Champions League triumph a little over six months ago.
It doesn’t help to be a former manager of one of the club’s most-hated rivals either.
That’s the plight that Chelsea’s new interim manager Rafa Benitez has to take on.
As expected, the former-Liverpool manager drew jeers and ire from the majority of Blues’ supporters in his managerial debut for Chelsea on Sunday. Signs, posters and chants all either poked fun at Benitez or praised Di Matteo.
The backlash is only set to continue following a 0-0 draw against Manchester City—the Blues’ second scoreless affair in as many games.
Benitez will only get a couple days of rest before he gets another crack at winning over the fans.
The most surefire way into the hearts of one of the most passionate of European fanbases is quite simple: win. If the Spaniard can provide a stop to Chelsea’s recent slide on Wednesday, you can expect that fans will slowly begin to come around.
More specifically, Benitez needs to get the Blues back to their goal-scoring ways.
Through their first 12 fixtures, the club netted a total of 31 goals. In the eight games since, Chelsea have only managed nine.
Reigniting the chemistry he shared with embattled striker Fernando Torres at Anfield—65 goals in 102 appearances for Liverpool—would go a long way in providing a solution to the Blues’ recent conundrum.
It would also accomplish a task that three prior managers had attempted and failed to do. It’s a feat that could not only win over the fans for good, but could also serve as the key to opening the floodgates for a Premier League onslaught for Chelsea.
Fulham: Can the Berbatov overshadow the weaknesses on defense?
The departures of Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele definitely looked to put a dent into the Fulham morale.
However, former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov has more than made up for it.
Berbatov has netted five goals and registered three assists in nine appearances for the Cottagers this season. His play is a large reason his club has tallied a total of 25 goals this season—a mark only surpassed by the Red Devils’ 32.
However, while Fulham have made a living slotting the ball into the back of the net this season, they’ve also made a habit of allowing them in as well.
Thus far, the Cottagers have conceded a total of 23 goals. In fact, opponents have netted a total of 12 goals in the club’s last five fixtures. Fulham are currently tied for the third-worst mark in the league with Wigan Athletic.
Up against a Chelsea side that has the talent to tally three to four goals every match, it’s imperative that the Cottagers keep their composure in the back.
The absence of skipper Brede Hangeland—serving a three-match suspension following a red card—will certainly hurt the cause.
Berbatov will need to be on his A-game if Fulham hope to have any chance Wednesday night.
Prediction: 2-1 Chelsea
The Blues will still struggle as they try to discover their playing style under Benitez. However, the porous defending by the Cottagers will lead to Chelsea putting an end to their slide.
Even Torres might find his name on the sheet.
Also check out: 5 Cheaper Attacking Alternatives for Chelsea
You can follow Sebastian on Twitter @SP7988